First Congregational Church is fortunate to have a heritage of members that represent so many diverse aspects of our local and national history.
Most noteworthy, our church has a strong association with the Reverend Ray Palmer. Ray Palmer was a noted theologian, scholar, and poet whose hymn “My Faith Looks Up to Thee” has been translated in almost every language and dialect in the world. In 1850, Rev. Palmer was called as the church’s first pastor in the original building. The current 1917 building is dedicated as a memorial to Rev. Palmer and his family was involved with the church at its original founding. The church archives contain works in Palmer’s own hand as well as artifacts provided by his descendants.
In addition, the architects of the church were Albert Fuller and William Robinson, who are noted for their prolific works throughout the City of Albany. It is believed that this was one of their works that had been forgotten until recent findings had been uncovered in the church archives.
Finally, the church membership has included many prominent figures in Albany’s history including Isaac Edwards, Dean of the Albany Law School; Dr. James McNaughton; Dr. John Bigelow; Dr. Levi Moore; Judge Alden Chester, Judge on the Supreme Court; William A. Rice, father of Colonel William Gorham Rice; David A. Thompson, lawyer and long-term president of the board of the Albany Orphan Asylum; Hon. Edward S. Draper; and Dr. Merril E. Gates, Headmaster of the Albany Academy and later president of Rutgers and then Amherst College.